Back to the temple

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 11th August), I arrived back at the temple…finally!

I was joined for the last 18 miles, from Battersea to Dagenham, by Mitsutake-san which was very much appreciated, as his energy gave me the push I needed for the last leg of the journey. I’m also very grateful to Simon, a member of our temple, who has been very supportive of the Angya trip, for joining us for the last part of the day. The three of us walked and chanted through Ilford and Goodmayes before reaching the temple in Dagenham at around 4:30pm.

There are more photos to come, and more details to fill in about the last few days of the trip which I haven’t been able to put up yet, but in the meantime, please enjoy the videos on the temple’s Facebook page, which Simon kindly took for a taste of the energy. (Unfortunately I can’t upload videos here)

Amazingly, as we made our way to the temple, we had one woman dancing to the Odaimoku, one man honked his car horn in time with our drumming, and people put their hands together from a pub garden we passed by.

It has been a wonderful time, and it will take some time to process everything from the last 3 weeks. I was fortunate to meet many wonderful people, and received lots of support to keep me going, which I’m very grateful for. Thank you everyone!

My prayer is that the sound of “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” which I chanted and drummed was able to awaken the sleeping Buddha-nature (the potential for enlightenment that everyone, without exception has) of everyone who heard it, and that they can go on to develop an enlightened mind, whatever path they take, and have peace and happiness.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!

Kanse poncho.jpg

“A singing bird in a cage attracts uncaged birds, and the sight of these uncaged birds will make the caged bird want to be free. Likewise, the chanting of the Odaimoku will bring out the Buddha-nature within ourselves.” –  (Hokke Shoshin Jōbutsu-shō) 13th c., by Nichiren Shonin, the founder of the Nichiren Shu school of Buddhism

The final countdown…

…stands at 18 miles, which means I will be finishing the Angya today. I have made it halfway across London, and this morning have made it to the Tower of london. If you would like to come and say hi or walk a bit with me, please get in touch. ETA at the temple is 3pm.


Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Salisbury Sunday

Hello everyone! How are you?

Today started with a very nice treat, which was that Jonathan, a member of our temple, came up from Southampton to say hello. We met up by Salisbury cathedral and had breakfast. It was really good to see a familiar face and catch up. Thank you for coming up to say hi, and for the breakfast Jonathan!

After that I headed towards Andover, going first towards Old Serum and then heading towards the Wallops. The road took me along the perimeter of the Porton Down site that is home of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) that has been in the news so much, connected with the Novichok poisonings.

From a distance it would appear you’re looking at just more fields:

But get closer (as always, when you’re walking you get to see so much more detail) and you’ll see signs like this one all along the fence:

I stopped at a biker café for a drink and to shelter from the sun, before continuing on to Middle Wallop. Thank you very much to the George Inn for letting me camp in their garden for the night!

I haven’t covered as much distance as I would have liked today. I guess I’ll just have to make up for it tomorrow…

I made it to Stonehenge!

On Wednesday evening I found myself in Sherborne, and it was suggested I enquire at the Abbey to see if they knew of anywhere I could stay.

I was told there was a patch of common ground by the railway station, with a stream running through it, so in the evening I headed there to find a spot to pitch my tent. As I was looking for a suitable campsite, I got talking to a man walking his dog who very kindly said I could camp in his garden. He and his family were very kind and not only let me camp there, but gave me some dinner, breakfast the next day (Thursday) and saw me off with a tour of the area around Sherborne castle before I headed off to Shaftesbury.

I walked on quiet roads and footpaths off the main road, so it was nice not to constantly have to watch traffic. When I got to a little place called Purse Candle, I asked a local farmer if the footpath marked on the map I’d been given was walkable and not too overgrown…he looked at my attire, and said after a pause, “Yeah, I think it should be fine.” I waited for him to move some cows along the road into a field nearby for fresher grass (it’s been so dry recently that the field they were in needed a rest), before making my way on the footpath.

Having received my detailed instructions from the farmer, and assurances that a style marked on the map was “probably still there” I went across wheatfields, through (very overgrown) gaps in hedgerows, and came out onto the road where I had planned to. From there it was quiet roads with little traffic all the way to Shaftesbury….the only thing was, there were no shops to speak of to get any food at which I had been banking on, so I managed on an apple and a peach.

Shaftesbury is a pretty town, which happens to be at the top of a MASSIVE hill. I arrived exhausted, at around 8pm and got myself a pint of coke and a pint of water at a pub. I’d been told that that pub was the best place to get food, but everything was a bit fancy, pricey, and probably not that filling, I reckoned. Besides, I was too tired to eat anyway, so decided to forget about food.

I found somewhere for the night, and filled up on the orange and chocolate chip cookies that were on offer. I had a bath, and felt human again.

Friday, I set off for Salisbury, not taking things too fast because of the heat which has been ramping up the last few days. I stopped to get some lunch at an inn (it almost sounds like a holiday!), and treated myself to another coke. Bad idea. My stomach felt a bit dodgy. I made use of the facilities, and took plenty of toilet paper just in case.

Luckily the terrain seems to be getting flatter, and luckily the road went around and not up this:

I made it to Fovant, and decided it was best to hitchhike from there to Salisbury. It was late in the day all ready (around 6pm) and I had booked an Airbnb in Salisbury for the princely sum of £18 for the night which I needed to check into. That and the fact that my stomach problem was not resolved ( constant concentration required and the situation exacerbated by walking) decided it for me.

A nice builder on his way to an auction in Salisbury gave me a lift and we covered the distance that would have taken me 4 hours to walk in 20 minutes.

Saturday (today) I visited Stonehenge, which I felt was important on this trip, as a site in England around 5000 years old with religious significance (although it’s exact propose remains shrouded in mystery).

Tomorrow I continue on towards Andover.


Friday – Wednesday

Well, well, well.

On Friday I walked from Bellever Forest Youth Hostel near Postbridge first to Moretonhampstead. Having used the public toilets and got something for lunch, I asked the locals about how big Dunsford was…I was told it was much smaller and only had one shop – a post office, which would probably be closed by the time I got there. I made the decision to press on anyway.

On the way out of Moretonhampstead a Danish tourist who had been to school for 6 months in Japan asked me about my clothes. He said, “Ganbatte” which means something like “good luck” or “do your best”.

Next I had my second Japanese interaction of the day – an older couple from Osaka were over on holiday and asked me about my robes. “Have you ever been to Japan?”, said the woman. When they found out that I was a Nichiren Shu Priest they were amazed that there I was, in England, on Dartmoor, with a drum, doing angya. “So strange!” she said, and got her husband to take a picture of us together. (Sorry I don’t have the photo)

I pushed on to Dunsford and having tried to find an appropriate field to camp in but failed, I knocked on the door of a nearby house to ask if there was somewhere I’d be out of the way. The lady kindly suggested a house that used their garden as a campsite for people, but it was 1.5 miles away and I wasn’t going to do that! She also said there was a youth hostel about half a mile back down the road I’d just come, so I turned around and went to look for it. By this point my feet were tired, and I just wanted somewhere to lay down. It turns out it wasn’t the sort of youth hostel you can just turn up at! By this point I’d had enough. Back I came to Dunsford, where I sat in the bus shelter for a bit feeling sorry for myself and working out what to do. I made up my mind to keep walking to Exeter with my reflective backpack, headtorch and handheld torch on the road ahead, a “night-hike”.

Before leaving the village I knocked on the door of one of the last houses, where a Hungarian family were staying on holiday to fill up my water bottle. They kindly let me camp in the garden (there was no space inside, with one of their 4 children all ready sleeping on the sofa downstairs), and invited me in to have some dinner.

The weather had turned and it was very windy and poured with rain – luckily the bamboo tent poles are still performing well. It was really cold that night, even with the thermal gilet I’d bought for night time in Tavistock. I woke up every hour or so, but managed to get some rest.

On Saturday morning I headed off to Exeter at 7:30am. It was too early to drum, so it was a chance to listen to nature. The only other people up were the farmers going about their morning chores. Several times during the trip I’ve yearned to just walk in silence and enjoy the countryside, but this tradition of angya, walking and chanting, isn’t for me.

Cycling seems to be the thing to do near Exeter on a Saturday morning – I must have passed more than 50 people on the walk. Three of them, separately all called “herrroooooo” (hello) in a silly, racist, fake Japanese accent to me on the way past…the third time I admit, I lost my temper and replied, “herrooo!!”

It was only later that I saw that day’s quote of the Lotus Sutra “quote of the day” I receive by email daily:

If anyone speaks ill of you, or threatens you
With swords, sticks, tile-pieces or stones
While you are expounding this sūtra,
Think of me, and be patient!

The rain managed to hold off until the last mile, when sudden showers pelted down and I scrambled to get my poncho on. I stopped to have some food, buy a razor to shave, and went to Specsavers to get more contact lenses. The woman who served me thought I was dressed for a star wars theme, which was perhaps plausible:

I walked through Exeter to the A360, but finally retreated as it looked too busy, it was raining and I’d had enough. I’d made it to Exeter. I’d achieved that. I could find some excuse to tell people, and I’d be forgiven for stopping there…

I stayed in Exeter Saturday night and Sunday night to hunker down from the rain, and recover myself. My planned schedule was now slipping away faster and faster, but I needed the time.

The week before I’d emailed my master in Japan, giving him what I thought was an update, but reading it back now, I was basically just complaining. He’d replied saying something like, “Oh Kanse, that is good. Now you are suffering. Continue as far as you can. Your practice of Angya is for other people. Do you understand?”

Did I understand!!?? That’s the whole reason I embarked on this trip! What did he think I was doing this for, a holiday? I’d much rather be at the temple, or maybe having a few days away somewhere, not walking 300 miles banging a drum for weeks!

…was my initial reaction. But after the two days in Exeter, I realised what he was pointing out was that my own challenge to myself was entwined with any altruistic intention I may have had. My initial reaction of irritation was because he was showing me myself. I no longer had any self-challenge steam left. I’d reached a turning point. Now the only way to continue was to think of other people. But I was worried if that would be enough.

On Monday morning I set off for Honiton. I realised there is a nice cycle route that goes the whole way, avoiding the A360. I ended up staying in Wilmington, just outside Honiton. From there, on Tuesday I walked 18 miles to Crewkerne.

I took small roads to walk in as straight a line as possible, but it was hilly! As a Cornish man, maybe that was why Captain James was so aware of the difficulties of the locals in his area climbing up the hill near his house!

On the way to Crewkerne I was stopped by the police for a third time (Somerset now – I’ve made it from Cornwall, through Devon into Somerset and as I write this am in Dorset), this time because of reports of a sword. I’m starting to wonder if that’s what they say to everyone walking on the side of the road if they want to talk to them…

The police officer said it wasn’t far to Crewkerne, so head down, I headed off and arrived after 8pm just before the light started properly disappearing.

At the beginning of the trip, when it started getting to 5pm I’d be worrying about where I was going to sleep – the natural human desire to be in control eating away at the potential walking time. As the trip has gone on though, I’ve forced myself to give up trying to have that control.

I arrived in Crewkerne with nowhere to stay, when Gail, who I’d passed all ready on the road a while ago, walked towards me and called, “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!”…amazing! She asked if she could give me bed for night me dinner…it didn’t take me very long to think about it! It turns out she is Buddhist and was in London helping out when the Battersea Peace Pagoda was being built. I am so grateful!

Today (Wednesday) the two of us walked and drummed, chanting “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” through Crewkerne to the edge of town where we bid farewell, and I continued on to Yeovil alone.

When I arrive in a new town or village there are two things I look for: a toilet, and a bench to sit on. Who would have thought a bench could be so comfortable!? As I ate my packed lunch a lady from Hong Kong came to chat, and gave me encouragement and some money for food. I stopped to fill up my water bottle and then headed to the edge of town.

I had planned to walk along this road to get to Sherborne, and on google maps it doesn’t look like big road, but the traffic was going quite fast, and it was a dual carriageway with no grass verges. I sat down to look for alternative routes. There weren’t really any. Maybe the time to hitchhike had finally come. Just then a lady who had passed me on the road earlier came to ask what it was all about. She and her husband very kindly gave me a lift for the 4 miles to Sherborne to save me walking the dual carriageway.

I don’t have any pictures together with anyone I’ve met along the way, which is a shame. I know some have been taken. If you’re out there and reading this, and don’t mind sharing a photo, please drop me an email to kansecapon @ Us English are shy folks, I know, but it would be lovely to share. Or if not share, I’d love to have the pictures as momentos.

A big palms together to everyone!